Books, Pt 1

Find fucking inspiration everywhere,” a poster I have says, so let’s start with books.

Why read books?  I can find it on Google.

The internet is great of acquiring breadth of knowledge; gathering tidbits here and there, but books will allow for a deeper understanding.  In addition, books are valuable because they tend to provide different lessons upon each reread.

A dumbass article like this takes an hour or two to write.  A book takes months or years to write.  I write articles like this on a whim.  A book is published upon painstaking research and a lifetime of focused expertise on a subject, and you can absorb the education contained in someone’s lifelong work in a matter of hours.  Someone literally would spend a lifetime becoming an expert on a topic, procuring only the utmost important information, and then would hand it to you on a silver platter.  This allows you understand any subject at the level of collective human knowledge in a relatively short amount of time.

Instead of going on a 2000-worded, sanctimonious abstract on why reading is good, let me try out something new this week.  I just grabbed a few random books from the shelf and will give a tiny summary of what I learned in each book.  Then, if any of them sounds interesting to you, you could borrow it from the library or buy it or whatever.

Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela) – Say what you will about Mandela, but this dude has been through so much bullshit.  His sole purpose in life was just to try and get rid of apartheid in South Africa.  He’s made massive progress, but apartheid still exists in SA.  I tried to find a rental car there and a bunch of places only served white customers.  One of the broad stroke lessons I gleaned from this book is that I’m extremely fortunate and whenever I come up with an excuse of why something couldn’t be done, I really ought to just shut the fuck up and do it.

Disease to Please (Harriet B. Braiker) – Runs through the psychology behind people who are doormats.  Many want to please others to such a point that they overburden themselves with that task and neglect their own psychological well-being.  This book covers everything from demanding bosses to abusive relationships.  Although I am personally not a doormat, this book was still very educational in two ways.  First, the understanding of this archetype allows me to screen people very quickly so that I can either a) try to help them, or b) disengage with them.  Second, there are exercises in this book which I resonated with.  An exercise is to think in a negative pattern and get yourself angry–the whole purpose of this is so now you can think in a positive pattern and get rid of that anger.  The theory behind the exercise is that many people are afraid of confrontation because they fear they will not be able to control their anger and this exercise is helpful in boosting their confidence during those confrontational situations.  Great example of a book where on the outset, I would not be interested in, but upon reading it from cover to cover actually learned a lot from it.

No Excuses (Brian Tracy) – This book covers why self-discipline and not making excuses is crucial for success.  The main thing about this book that I particularly enjoyed is that it is extremely practical.  It isn’t just some “rah-rah,” state-pumping book.  At the end of each chapter are questions and action items.  This is one of those books where rereads and constantly practicing the action items will be helpful in every single area of life.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) – Even if you haven’t read this book, you probably have heard of it.  Anecdotal in general for easier understanding, there are tons of timeless principles in this book where if everyone practiced, the world would be a ridiculously amazing place.  Reading this and practicing what you learned for yourself ought to improve any and all kinds of interpersonal relationships in your life.  I cannot even summarize this book because every single page has great advice.  Great book, 100/10, worth rereading over and over.  If there is any one book you should read on this small list, it is this gem – you would be doing yourself a great favor. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 2nd Ed (Judith S. Beck) – A book that is generally for graduate students in psychology, this book teaches you how to become a therapist, essentially.  This type of therapy (CBT) is based on the cognitive behavioral model:  a person has core beliefs, which drives their intermediate beliefs, which drives their automatic thoughts, which then drives their emotions, and this in turn drives their actions.  The therapy is in taking a step back and truly analyzing the origins of one’s emotions and rationally seeing if there is any validity to them.  This kind of long-term therapy eventually allows patients of various psychological disorders to become well on their own, without any need for medication.  This is just a great book in general as it can be used as a therapeutic tool for yourself.  In fact, in one of the earlier chapters it asks the reader to practice the therapy on themselves so they can become a better psychologist for their patients.  Not to mention CBT is a ridiculously powerful tool: a friend of mine got a stripper to pour her heart out to him with this (and he didn’t even pay a single dime) and the same friend also used this to get himself a girlfriend.  Also, it is just fun to mindfuck people (for the better).

Disrupt You! (Jay Samit) – Mostly an anecdotal book on how people exploited problems to make billions of dollars.  This book also describes how to analyze your own self as a business and categorically identify your weaknesses so that you could improve upon them.  The main lesson I got from this book: the problem contains the solution.

Power vs. Force (David R. Hawkins) – This book is kind of out there.  It has both spiritual and dubious “scientific” elements to it.  However, if one reads the book with a spiritual lens instead of taking his research at face value, there is much to be gleaned from this book.  In fact, if you read this book, just skip the first 3 chapters.  This book discusses many things: accepting human nature instead of fighting against it, nonduality, the nature of consciousness, and a bunch of other mindfucks.  One of the main lessons I got from this book: being forceful in accomplishing a goal takes a lot of effort and most of the time is unsuccessful, while going with the flow to come up with a solution is almost effortless and usually successful.  An example of “power”:  Human beings enjoy pleasure – Red Light District supports human desire and creates a win-win situation instead of oppressing it.  An example of “force”: Human beings enjoy pleasure – tried to squash it by banning drugs which created enough demand to build a dangerous drug empire, and now we have drug wars.

Anyway, all these books are pretty great and the value you get out of them will likely be different than mine.

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